Everyone who claims to support the war should have to read this
From today's New York Times, via Steve Gilliard:
Healing, With New Limbs and Fragile Dreams
It was a victory for Lance Cpl. Matthew Schilling to walk into the upper gallery of the House of Representatives on Jan. 31 for the State of the Union address. He wore his dress blues and a prosthetic leg. Five months earlier, he had been carried on a stretcher, wounded and bleeding, into a hospital in Iraq after a roadside bomb exploded 10 feet from him.
The blast tore through his right foot and calf and blew a hole through his left hand. But hearing President Bush speak confidently of victory in Iraq, Corporal Schilling, a smooth-faced Marine reservist and college student from Portersville, Pa., who grew up on a cattle farm, again felt that his sacrifice had been worth it.
"I felt really proud when all those people I met that night thanked me for my service," said Corporal Schilling, 21, who attended with his wife, Leigh Ann, as guests of their congresswoman, Representative Melissa A. Hart, a Republican.
Yet when the Schillings returned to the Mologne House, a hotel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for wounded soldiers and their families, Corporal Schilling found that wearing his prosthesis that night had taken a toll. Blood blisters had formed on his stump, and he was soon back in a wheelchair facing more surgery.
[. . .]
Explosions have killed 1,123 American service members in Iraq and have wounded at least 10 times more, often with a devastating combination of injuries — ruptured organs and severed spines, obliterated limbs and burst eyeballs.
Among the more than 16,653 Americans wounded in Iraq are 387 amputees, including 62 who, like Corporal Beyers, have lost more than one limb, said Lt. Col. Paul Pasquina, chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Walter Reed. The amputations, traumatic though they are, are often accompanied by painful complications. "It's not as easy as putting on even the most high-tech prosthetic and just walking off," Colonel Pasquina said.
Most of the amputees returning from combat zones have an infection, because a bomb blast can embed bacteria, dirt or pieces of clothing deep into the wound, Colonel Pasquina said. A severe infection could require further amputation or possibly be fatal.
About 20 percent of the amputees have had potentially serious blood clots that formed as a result of the initial trauma. About half of them experience a condition in which bone grows at the site of amputation, called heterotopic ossification, he said. In the worst cases, the growth can prevent proper fitting of a prosthesis or pierce the skin.
Corporals Schilling and Beyers each have mild cases of abnormal bone growth. Fissures also have formed at the end of their stumps, where their wounds were closed, and the irritated, blistered skin could become infected.
[. . .]
The Third Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, the corporals' unit, lost 14 men in an explosion on Aug. 3, the deadliest roadside bomb attack on American troops in Iraq. By the end of its seven-month tour, 48 of the unit's reservists would be dead, including 28 killed by improvised bombs.
The explosion that wounded Corporals Schilling and Beyers occurred in the town of Hit. Seven marines on foot patrol were thrown to the ground after a blinding flash and an eardrum-piercing blast, they recalled. Five of them grabbed their weapons and fired into surrounding buildings.
Corporals Beyers and Schilling remained down. Marines carrying thick pads stopped their bleeding. One marine, trained as a combat lifesaver, placed tourniquets on their legs. A medic gave them shots of morphine. Then, to signal to caregivers that the men had been given the drug, he dipped his finger in their blood and wrote an M on each marine's forehead.
About an hour later, Corporals Schilling and Beyers were in surgery at the nearby Al Asad Military Base. It was the first of 13 operations they would endure in eight days, during stays at five hospitals in three countries. A doctor amputated Corporal Schilling's right leg below the knee. Corporal Beyers, with severe lung injuries, was in worse shape. Doctors amputated his right lower leg and his entire right arm, including the shoulder; shrapnel had destroyed his shoulder joint and just missed slicing his carotid artery, doctors said. For the next week he would be in an induced coma.
[. . .]
Corporal Schilling was rolled into an operating room the next morning. "Doc, please, I've got to keep my hand," he said before he was sedated.
The shrapnel that tore through the palm had severed bones and tendons. The tip of the middle finger was connected only by sinews. The tip of the ring finger was missing.
During the surgery, Dr. Paul Phillips, an Army reservist from Texas, inserted rods and pins to support the bones. "As bad as it looks, it's still fixable, and I'm not going to let him lose his fingers," he said.
Dr. Phillips amputated another inch and a half from Corporal Schilling's leg, so the wound could eventually be closed more neatly. He positioned a long wire with tiny teeth on it under the tibia, then the fibula, and sawed the bones. Fragments flew across the room and bounced with a ping on the tile floor.
[. . .]
But outside the hospital unit, the general looked grim. "There's not a kid in that unit who knew what they were getting into," he said. "When I asked them, are you ready to go?, they would say, 'Yes, sir.' But then I'd look at those 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds, two weeks out of boot camp, and thought, no, they are not ready for this struggle. I knew how scared they were, how reluctant they were."
He added, "Men like this one have shown more courage than we had the right to expect from them."
Go read the whole thing, print it out, and make your war-supporting friends read it. If they still don't get it, read it to them. Make them see what they're supporting. Make them see what they're doing.
Make them stop.